Game Pad Digital has been on my Watch List, so to speak, ever since I accidentally found the announcement of the GPD Win back years ago. I have always loved portability with my technology, and the idea of a handheld PC was beyond awesome. As you saw with my coverage of that, it provided an interesting experience for handheld gamers.
Not long after the Win released, GPD had reached out to me on YouTube about a new small PC they were making, this time a traditional laptop, but small enough it could fit into a decent-sized pocket. I could not deny I wanted one, but I never imagined it had a lot of practicality for this website.
Thanks to the website, Gear Best, I was able to receive one of these $500 units for free to make videos of. So here I am, providing content for a device I did not think I would be able to provide content about. Here is my review of the Laptop with a 7” screen, the GPD Pocket!
The basic design of the Pocket is pretty simple. You have basic laptop design with a keyboard on the bottom half of the device and a hinged screen on the top. To provide specifics, the screen is a 7” touch screen, allowing for touch interactions as well as traditional interactions.
The top is just the screen, so let’s talk about the bottom. All buttons are on the keyboard, itself. While the keyboard is a full QUERTY keyboard, it also has a power button in the top right corner and a mouse nub, similar to the ones found on old IBM laptops to move your cursor, This is paired with two buttons for mouse clicks.
And the ports are on the side of the device. You have 1 USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, a Micro-HDMI port for video-out, and a USB-C port for the charger. It is a pretty simple design that does not have a lot of ports. Granted, you have a keyboard so you may not need more than one USB port, but GPD marketed this as being paired with a thin USB Hub that would go alongside the Pocket to allow for multiple USB connections.
Not much else can be said about the design. It is pretty simple and there are a lot of sections to be made in this review, so I will quickly move onto the next.
By default, the Pocket comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home Edition. Unlike the Win, the Pocket already has its copy of Windows 10 authenticated, making the setup process very simple. You just start it up and Cortana guides you through the Windows setup.
It is worth noting that the device also supports Ubuntu. So if you are more of a Linux person, you have that option when contacting and purchasing this device.
As far as specifications go, some basic info is the following:
Processor – Z8750 – 1.66 ghz base clock speed
RAM – 8 GB
Screen Resolution: 1920×1200
You will notice that the Ram and Processor are both ahead of what the GPD Win used. 8 GB of RAM is great and more on today’s default above low priced computers. The higher resolution is also nice when you are using the HDMI port for bigger monitors.
Since this is a website about handheld Gaming, we need to look at the Pocket from a gaming perspective. There is no controller/gamepad like the Win, but how game-worthy is this device? It is worth noting that the processor here is a bit better than the Win’s as the Pocket sports a Z8750. The specs are supposed to be comparable to the Surface Pro 3.
In my testing of PC games, I ran into a few problems with enhancing performance. On the Pocket, there is almost nothing you can edit in BIOS, and there is no Intel HD Graphics application for you to modify to improve game performance, so in actuality, the Win can play games smoother than the Pocket. However, given how many cases there have been with GPD Win units frying and bricking from people pushing the temperature settings too far for performance, it is no surprise that GPD is restricting those options this time around.
What is left to do is mostly prioritizing game applications and using Low Settings in PC games. I tested a lot of games and they always had High Priority set for the application in Task Manager to make sure I had the highest FPS I could get, without diving into software that would force it to run better and possibly hurt the computer, itself.
The results were decent, but nothing great. A few examples of FPS I got are the following
Doom 3 – 40-60 fps
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 30-45 fps
Fallout 3 – 30-50 fps
Fallout: New Vegas – 20-25 fps
Those I felt are the most important, as the aspect of Fallout and Skyrim in portable form was a huge thing with the GPD Win. While New Vegas plays under 30 fps, you can get Fallout 3 and Skyrim running very well. It is also worth noting that you could use the ~tll command from the console in any of these Bethesda games to further improve the fps.
Emulation I have been light with this time around. I have tested a few simple emulators, like SNES, GBA, and N64, all of which run flawlessly. Just not a lot to see here as I lack the requirements for most of the heavier emulators like PS2 and such.
All in all, it has some gaming application. Obviously, Bethesda games running well is great in such a tiny form factor, but due to the restrictions, you will not be able to push it as far as the GPD Win could be pushed. Granted, you have a much smaller chance of your system overheating, but from a gaming perspective, it is a little inferior to the Win.
I have had the GPD Pocket for nearly 2 weeks and since receiving it, I have been using it as if it were my only computer. I have written reviews, watched all of my favorite channels I keep up with on YouTube, played and tested games, and all in all, just done everything on this that I do with a computer. The only thing I have not done on this is video editing, as Sony Vegas Pro is installed on my Surface Pro 2.
So, how usable is this as a computer? First, let us talk about the keyboard. GPD had mentioned the keyboard they used with this had won a bunch of awards. And I will not lie, it is a pretty comfy keyboard. The Pocket is only 7” in size and the keyboard types much more comfortably and less cramped than the Logitech iPad Mini Keyboard, which is a fair bit larger with less keys
It is not all good, though. I have 2 major issues with the keyboard. The ‘ key and the Power button. If you type fluently, you will be used to having your apostrophe key to the left of your Enter key. On this keyboard, it is below the right-side Shift key, which makes for very awkward keystrokes. At first, I had learned to just stop using words with apostrophes, but over these 2 weeks, I have adjusted to moving my fingers towards that lower key.
The other issue is the Power Button. It is easy to find, being in a corner of the keyboard, but it is directly above the backspace button. There have been more than a few times where I have gone to hit backspace and accidentally tapped the power button, putting the device to sleep.
Next up is Battery Life. GPD claimed the Pocket would last 12 hours on a full charge. This is not entirely accurate. With Wifi on, the battery lasts more like 7-8 hours. Granted, that is amazing compared to the pitiful battery in the GPD Win, but it is not quite on par with what they claimed.
The only other thing I would complain about is the mouse. Nubs are entirely out of tune with today’s technology. They worked well back in the IBM days, but today, the cursor just moves so sluggish and slow that you are better off just plugging in a USB Mouse or using the touch screen. I think the keyboard could/should have just been a tad moved around for an actual touch-pad, even if it was tiny.
Overall, it is not bad for computing, really. The Battery Life is pretty nice, and they keyboard just has a couple mishaps. With some adjusting, I have really gotten used to the device and am liking using it as my main computer.
In conclusion, the GPD Pocket is an interesting miniature laptop that is just small enough to be ultra-portable and just powerful enough to manage games like Skyrim and Fallout 3 on the go. Although the computing usability is held back by the design choice of a couple keyboard keys and the slugglish mouse nub, it's otherwise a great little laptop that I plan to keep using on a regular basis for a long time.